Mother Kristen Bartkiw packed her two kids a lunch of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, oranges, and milk and sent them off to school. That afternoon, she was pretty surprised to find a “penalty note” from the school, including a fine for $10CDN, because the school had been forced to “supplement” her lunch with….Ritz crackers?
I have to be honest you guys: I don’t think red meat and milk make for a healthy school lunch, but I also don’t think that adding Ritz crackers improves matters. What the what?
Apparently in Manitoba, schools enforce Canada’s Food Guide with an iron fist. Much like here in the U.S., that Food Guide stinks of lobbyist dollars. Here are the “healthy” requirements:
- 1 milk
- 1 meat
- 1 grain
- 2 fruits/vegetables
Honestly, it’s hard to decide where to start here, so let’s just focus on the Ritz crackers, OK? I doubt that when the Canadian government suggests that grains are part of a healthy meal they mean saturated fat-laden, refined flour-filled, salt-packed processed crackers. If the school had given these kids some brown rice or quinoa, maybe they’d have a better case here, but Ritz crackers seem a little bit ridiculous.
Bartikiw also mentioned that Manitoba has a “great” hot lunch program as a result of these guidelines, so I tried to find a little bit more information about that. I turned up this lunch menu from a Winnipeg school, which doesn’t strike me as particularly healthy. I do think it’s great that Manitoba is providing affordable lunches for kids who can’t afford it, healthy or not, though. The Canadian Food Guidelines might be a little bit misguided, but any program that prevents kids from going hungry is beneficial in my book, even if it’s not perfect.
I would love to hear from other Manitoba parents. Have you gotten fined for the lunches your packing? What about vegan and vegetarian kids? Do plant-based proteins and milks fulfill the milk and meat requirements?
- Tips for Packing a Nutritious, Waste-Free Lunch
- Alice Waters: How to fix school nutrition.
- Higher Nutrition Standards for School Snacks Increases Participation in School Lunch